Hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. It is an inherited condition in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron. The extra iron builds up in several organs, especially the liver, and can cause serious damage. Without treatment, the disease can cause these organs to fail.
Iron is an essential nutrient found in many foods. Healthy people usually absorb about 10 percent of the iron contained in the food they eat to meet the body’s needs.
People with hemochromatosis absorb more than the body needs. The body has no natural way to rid itself of the excess iron, causing the excess to build up in the organs.